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Apple's Group FaceTime Delayed, Won't Ship with iOS 12

If you were eager to use iOS 12's Group FaceTime — which enables video calling between up to 32 people at once — you're going to need to wait a little longer. Apple's just announced this feature needs more time in the oven, and won't arrive with the finished version of iOS 12 set to debut in the fall.

The news comes directly from Apple itself, as a note in the latest developer release of iOS 12 states that "Group FaceTime has been removed from the initial release of iOS 12 and will ship in a future software update later this fall" Which means we should expect it after September, when Apple is expect to launch its next iPhones along with the software that powers them.

When he tested Group FaceTime after the first iOS 12 public beta debuted, Tom's Guide senior editor Philip Michaels found that it was not quite ready for prime time. Specifically, he noted "a group chat in iOS 12 was an exercise in frustration, as the people I was talking with either froze or dropped out of the call." That poor experience wasn't even testing Group FaceTime at its limits: "And that was just with three people — I can’t imagine the horror show of packing the upper limit of 32 people onto a call."

When Apple originally demoed Group FaceTime at June's WWDC event, the experience looked pretty chaotic, with each user living in their own little box, which would grow and shrink depending on if they were talking. Group FaceTime will be a prime place for Apple's Animoji and Memoji avatars to shine.

Apple has delayed iOS features in the past. When it previewed iOS 11 in 2017, Apple touted a new Messages in iCloud feature to sync messages between devices and platforms. But that capability didn't arrive until iOS 11.4, released in late May. It sounds like Apple is hoping to make Group Chat a more polished experience in iOS 12 before that feature reaches a wider audience.